Ash Wednesday, Year B

Inspired by Isaiah 58:1-12

“If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:9b-10 (NRSV)

The world is a very troubled place. Governments do not act in the best interests of their citizens, and individuals posture and position for their own advantage because they perceive that nobody else will advocate for their wellbeing. Those who don’t or can’t engage in such posturing are neglected, forgotten, or exploited. All in all, it seems as though many are living in dark and gloomy times.

In response to these gloomy times, some are calling for a return to the Lord and his ways. However such calls are often accompanied by finger pointing, blame, condemnation, and carefully selected morality passages from the bible. Looking at the bible as a whole, the overriding priority of God is justice and love. God has provided enough food to feed every person in the world; it is our selfishness and corruption that causes some to starve. God has provided enough resources for all to live healthy, sustainable lives, but it is our greed in wanting to maximize our own profits or savings that results in others not being able to earn enough to live from their own hard work.

God carefully and lovingly created each and every one of us to live in community with him and with each other. Enslaving each other, blaming each other for the troubles of the world, and speaking evil of God’s beloved children are what create the darkness and gloom we’re fighting against. Treating one another with dignity and respect, and looking out for the wellbeing of others rather than just our own, is how we return to the Lord and his ways. And then we will begin to emerge from these dark and gloomy times, as the Lord will continue to guide us. All we have to do is follow.

Let us pray. God of justice, you have created a world of abundance. Help us to satisfy our needs rather than our wants, that none may know hunger or depravity. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.